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Background and context     


 Age-related hearing loss, which is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions affecting older individuals, results in distorted or incomplete communication leading to embarrassment, frustration, fatigue, reduced working memory, social isolation and withdrawal.  The resultant lowering of sensory input can negatively impact on overall psychological health.


Similar behavioural and psychological impact is evident amongst individuals with dementia who have reduced ability to communicate due to their language skills, varying from day to day and becoming increasingly difficult as their condition progresses.


The frequent co-occurrence of these chronic conditions can compound communication problems, with untreated hearing loss masquerading as more advanced dementia symptoms, limiting daily functioning.


 Despite this, there are no best care standards for the management of individuals living with hearing loss and dementia, and no supporting information that has been developed for use by these patients and care givers.


Project aim

Use a co design process to develop multimedia educational information in the form of an easy read patient information leaflet that can be accessed in a variety of formats and used by patients and caregivers as many times as required to:

  • Provide hearing health information

  • Support improved hearing aid handling skills

  • Aid communication

  • Improve confidence and motivation.


A print format that uses art to foster understanding and aid treatment compliance amongst a patient group with widely varying levels of cognition is sought.  We are encouraging designs that can be converted into a downloadable media format for publication on the Trust website.


The Trust is working in partnership with the University for Creative Arts to support this work. Dr Sophie Beard, Senior Lecturer Graphic Designs, has agreed that the development of easy read information will be set as an academic project for students in the next academic year (commencing Sep 2018-2019), with the winning design being used. We will offer the students:

  • A design briefing to the students by one/two of our specialists

  • Site visit(s) for students to observe clinical interactions

  • Facilitate the co-design process with patient and carer representatives from local carer support group, the Trust Dementia Strategy meeting and the Scottish Dementia Alumni 

  • A test environment for piloting of designs to establish effectiveness

  • Sharing of patient information leaflets currently used by our service.

We are excited about this partnership and hope that, as well as creating some innovative designs with our patients, this will give the students an opportunity to gain a greater understanding about the impact of dementia and hearing loss. It will also help us understand more about the application of the arts in healthcare and if this work can be used in other areas where the design of accessible information would be an essential element in engaging patients and their caregivers to improve health outcomes.  


We hope to present the development of the leaflet and this innovative collaboration with other organisations, at regional and national clinical network events and professional conferences.


Benefits & measures

The expected benefits of this work are:

Development of high quality print media information to reinforce verbal information conveyed in the clinical setting, leading to:

  • Improved treatment compliance from more active engagement and better handling skills

  • Increased knowledge of hearing aids and communication amongst patients and care givers.

     

Funding

We are seeking funding for the printing of 20,000 copies of the final designs, conference costs to present the project outcomes at professional educational and networking events, and to fund an academic prize/award for the winning design.

The overall design would need to fit with NHS Identity guidelines, https://www.england.nhs.uk/nhsidentity/identity-guidelines)


How you can contribute

  • • Feedback on the idea if anyone has experience of supporting people with dementia and hearing loss
  • • Learning from similar work
  • • Ideas of the potential to spread this to different settings

Comments

  1. Yes completely agree. We encourage the use of A3 plans/PDSA cycles in the Trust and this work really suits the approach.

  2. YES!

    The combination of hearing loss and even relatively mild cognitive deterioration can be profound.

    I suspect that testing multiple versions is going to be the key, so this is a perfect project for design thinking/agile development. As such, the stodgy old NHS waterfall could learn a bit from the work!

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